On a different tune

Updated: 2016-10-27 14:31

By Xu Fan(China Daily USA)

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Singer Jay Chou dons producer's hat for movie inspired by legendary ultramarathon runner Kevin Lin, Xu Fan reports.

Famous Chinese singer Jay Chou is back in cinema, but as a producer.

The 37-year-old star is currently making 10,000 Miles, a film loosely based on legendary ultramarathon runner Kevin Lin, who is a household name in Taiwan.

In a showbiz career spanning 16 years since he began singing, Chou made his acting debut in the 2005 Chinese film Initial D.

He also acted in this year's Hollywood flick Now You See Me 2 and a series of big-budget action films at home and abroad.

In addition, he has directed the films Secret and The Rooftop.

Over the years, Chou has sold up to 30 million music albums, winning a number of awards and has held six world tours, performing for millions of fans.

The new film spawns a fictional role inspired by Lin, once a physically weak child who pursued his dream to become a great athlete.

As the first modern Chinese ultramarathon runner to cross the Sahara Desert in February 2007, Lin, 39, has taken on extreme terrains such as high mountains along the ancient Silk Road to the frozen Arctic.

A date for the premiere of 10,000 Miles has yet to be announced, but around 80 percent of the film is complete. A special-effects team is now working on it.

"Kevin is a superman. His experience tells us that if people try their best and persist, they will realize their dreams. I want more people to know his story," says Chou.

"It will not be a biopic chronicling his life, but a fictionalized version that spreads his positive energy," says Chou.

Taiwan-born Los Angeles-based director Simon Hung has directed the film. He also wrote the script mixing courage and romance.

In the film, the character based on Lin is at first a high-school student who falls in love with an older girl. Then they break up over a misunderstanding. To get his love back, he takes part in a marathon.

Chou reveals that as a producer his job included finding the right cast and crew as well as making the film's music. And for most of his fans, that might be the biggest draw.

Critics have said the commercial success of Zhang Yimou's 2006 martial arts epic Curse of The Golden Flowers, which cast Chou as a revengeful prince, was to some extent due to Chou's theme song, Chrysanthemum Terrace. It was one of the most popular songs in China's karaoke bars that year and was also nominated by the 79th Oscar's for the original song award.

The songs in Chou's directorial venture - Secret and The Rooftop - were popular online in 2007 and 2013. He says it is easier being a producer rather than director.

Discovered by Taiwan pop-show host and singer Jacky Wu, who financed Chou's maiden album Jay in 2000, Chou also believes in supporting younger talents.

Chou says he was impressed by the visual spectacles featured in Hung's sci-fi thriller Battle for Skyark. So, without hesitation, he invited Hung to direct 10,000 Miles.

A sandstorm and a wolf in search of prey - among the natural barriers in the expedition - are all thanks to special effects.

For the film, actors Sean Huang, Darren Wang and actress Megan Lai were trained by Lin every morning for a couple of months.

Li Yansong, president of iQiyi Pictures, an investor in the film, says the pre-sales response in Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea has so far been good.

What's next for Chou? The star ponders and says he wants to direct a Hollywood film.

He seems eager to prove his ability in cinema just as he has in music.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

 On a different tune

I Belonged to You, starring Zhang Tian'ai (left) and Deng Chao, makes 800 million yuan ($118 million) at the box office.

On a different tune

Chinese actress Zhang Tian'ai has risen to fame with her online series Go Princess Go. Photos Provided To China Daily

(China Daily USA 10/27/2016 page8)